ICO gets ready to fine the worst PECR offenders

The UK Information Commissioner's Office, the ICO, says that it is working towards identifying the worst offenders against the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. In the past year, it received 7,000 complaints about unsolicited phone calls and texts, which represent a 43% rise from the previous year.

“Last year the ICO gained tough new powers to tackle unsolicited marketing calls and texts, including the power to impose a penalty of up to £500,000 on the worst offenders,” Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said.

“We have now set up a dedicated team to enforce the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations and we are currently working to identify the operators responsible. The ICO has executed search warrants at a number of sites across the UK linked to companies we believe are breaking the law.”

“We have also set up an online reporting mechanism on our website that allows people to report any marketing texts or calls from unidentified senders. We have received over 12,000 reports to date and we are confident that this work will help us identify those responsible.”

Since receiving its data protection fining power back in April 2010, the ICO has issued 21 penalty notices, and fines totalling over £2 million.

An important part of the ICO’s increased enforcement effort is voluntary audits. It audited 42 organisations last year, with one quarter of them being in the private sector. The ICO says that 90% of those audited think the experience increased data protection awareness in their organisation.

The ICO issued its annual report on 5 July 2012.